Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Library

The Earl Silas Tupper Library in Tropical Biology,  located on Ancón Hill, Panama City, Republic of Panamá, supports the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). The Library, one of twenty-one branches of the Smithsonian Libraries, supporting research, publications, exhibits and public programming of STRI, as well as those of other museums and research institutions in Panamá and across Central America.

About STRI

In 1923, the Institute for Research in Tropical America, a group that included private foundations, universities and the Smithsonian Institution, established a research laboratory on Barro Colorado Island, and became one of the first biological reserves in the New World. It was managed by the National Research Council, and its purpose was to investigate the flora and fauna of tropical America. In 1949, the facility was renamed the Canal Zone Biological Area and placed under the control of a board composed of the heads of several executive departments and prominent scientists. In 1946, a reorganization plan transferred operations to the Smithsonian Institution. The Canal Zone Biological Area was incorporated into the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in 1966 to provide continuity to the research program conducted at BCI and to establish a center where students from all over the world could conduct tropical research under conditions similar to those of an academic institution. More information on STRI can be found on its website.


The STRI Library collects research-oriented, academic and highly technical materials in animal behavior, anthropology, biodiversity, canopy studies, conservation of the tropics, evolution, long-term monitoring projects, marine biology, paleoecology, plant physiology, natural and protected areas, research policy, and the Panama Canal and its watershed. There are over 34,000 monographs, 24,000 print serial volumes, a vertical file and map collection. The Special Collection protects over 900 monographs and serials, including a complete set of the turn of the 20th century Biologia Centrali Americana from the collection of Barro Colorado Island.

Learn more about STRI Library collections either via OneSearch and SIRIS catalog searching, or the Related Information tabs on the right of this page.

Services for STRI Researchers:

Library orientations every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10:00 am, or by appointment. Training for citation, data and research management also available.

Monthly library visits for training and outreach to Galeta, Gamboa, Naos, *Barro Colorado Island and *Bocas del Toro Research Stations (*upon request).

STRI Researchers, holding an affiliated badge, are invited to sign up for a library account, which provides borrowing privileges, ILL, and stacks access into the 3 story library Annex.

Interlibrary Loan resource sharing services are available between the 21 Smithsonian branch Libraries, as well as with consortia libraries.

Scanning, printing and photocopying services are available for STRI colleagues.

Services for the Panamanian Public:

The STRI Library is open to University Students, Professors, and the general public without an appointment.

The public do not have borrowing privileges or stacks access to the 3 story library Annex, but may utilize all library print and electronic resources subscribed to by the Smithsonian Libraries within the Library Reading Room.

Scanning services are available for the public, printing and photocopying are not.

Contact us:

Email the Reference Desk with questions:

Call the Reference Desk from Panama: (507) 212-8113

Call the Reference Desk from the USA: (202) 633-4700x8113